Planning for 2009

PLANNING FOR 2009….The Iraqis are pushing back on the idea of a long-term American presence:

Declaring that there will not be “another colonization of Iraq,” Iraq’s foreign minister raised the possibility on Wednesday that a full security agreement with the United States might not be reached this year, and that if one was, it would be a short-term pact.

….At a news conference in Baghdad, the foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told reporters that some headway had been made, but that negotiators were deadlocked over issues like the extent of Iraqi control over American military operations and the right of American soldiers to detain suspects without the approval of Iraqi authorities.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is feeling stressed:

The U.S. military’s top officer warned Wednesday that an Israeli airstrike against Iran would make the Middle East more unstable and could add to the stress on overworked American forces in the region.

….”Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful for us,” [Adm. Mike Mullen] said, referring to the prospect of a direct clash with Iran while fighting continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is a very unstable part of the world, and I don’t need it to be more unstable.”

And of course Mullen has already said that Afghanistan is going sideways and there’s not too much he can do about it because all his troops are in Iraq. Call me naive, but this all points in one direction: start drawing down our presence in Iraq, stay calm on the Iran front, and put more effort into stabilizing Afghanistan and wiping out the remaining remnants of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Who’s with me?